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  • graphic design + biomimicry Integrating Nature into Modern Design Practices

    Margaret McKosky

  • graphic design + biomimicry 2012 by Margaret McKosky

    Self Published. All rights reserved.

    Printed and bound by Blurb,

    This project was produced with support from

    Rochester Institute of Technology, College of

    Imaging Arts and Science, School of Design.

    This book is the final print application,

    documenting all of the research done for this

    thesis project prior to attaining a Masters of

    Fine Arts Degree. It is intended for educational

    purposes only. Every effort has been made to

    ensure that credits accurately comply with the

    information supplied. I apologize for any

    inaccuracies that may have occurred and will

    resolve inaccurate or missing information in a

    subsequent re-editing and printing of the book.

    acknowledgementsThis book would not have been possible nor nearly as good without the talent,

    contribution and support of the following people who graciously committed

    their time to help guide me through. Also, a special thanks to the organizations

    that inspire me everyday.

    Nancy Ciolek, Lorrie Frear, Bruce Ian Meader, Josh Owen

    my wonderful and brilliant Committee Members

    Jessica Jones and Andrea Leggitt

    for taking the time to speak with me and allowing me to use

    their knowledge and research

    Biomimicry 3.8

    for inspiring me to do this book

    The Designers Accord

    for encouraging me to share this project

    Rochester Institute of Technology

    for supplying me with knowledge and opportunities

    My Family & Friends

    whose patience, love and support sustain all efforts, but

    were especially tested on this one

  • Biomimicry(noun)the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled after biological entities and processes1

    from the Greek bios, life, mimesis, imitation

    1 New Oxford American

    Dictionary 3rd ed 2010

  • contents

    beginning 11 Introduction | Situation Analysis 15 Objective | Scope of Project

    1 defining 21 Introduction | What Would Nature Do? 23 Awareness | Innovators at the Institute

    27 Industry Standards | Modern Design Practices

    2 analyzing 37 Introduction | How Would Nature Begin? 39 Methodology | Biomimicry + Graphic Design

    47 Meme | Natures Design Principles, Indirect Method

    61 Graphic Design | Universal Principles & Elements

    75 Process | Integrating the Disciplines, Direct Method

    83 System Solution | Ethos, Reconnect

    3 observing 97 Introduction | How Would Nature Solve the Problem? 99 Patterns & Surface Mimicry | Animal Camouflage

    103 Fractals & the Fibonacci Spiral | Natural Algorithms

    109 Graphical Solutions | Tessellation Patterns

    4 selecting 123 Introduction | What Tools Would Nature Use? 125 Life-Friendly Materials | Reducing our Carbon Footprint

    5 implementing 133 Introduction | How Would Nature Delegate? 135 Biomimicry + Corporations | Network & Facilitate

    139 Creative Sessions | Cross-Disciplinary Design Tables

    6 evaluating 147 Introduction | How Would Nature Assess? 149 The Biomimetic Mind-set | Psychology of Processing

    progressing 155 Onward | The Future of Biomimetic Design 158 Bibliography

    159 Credits

    resources 32 Biomimicry 3.8 Website

    33 TED Talks

    34 DesignMomentum Blog

    35 Book List

    case studies 88 Logo Concepts: IDEO

    89 QR Codes

    90 Eco Printer

    91 EcoFont

    92 RIT Taga 2011

    93 InterfaceFlor Carpet

    94 WineHive

    95 999 Bottles

    case studies 120 Visual Mimicry

    case studies 130 Celery Divider Tabs

    131 Certificate Casing

    case studies 142 IDEO & the USGBC

    144 Smart Design & IBM's

    SmarterCity Initiative

    case studies 152 The Designers Accord

  • beginning

    Situation Analysis

  • Biomimicry is a relatively new discipline that studies natures finest ideas

    and then attempts to imitate these designs and processes to solve human

    problems. It is simply innovation inspired by nature,1 or as Janine Benyus,

    one of the leading researchers of biomimicry today would say it is the

    conscious emulation of lifes genius on the path to a sustainable future.2

    The core concept is that nature over 3.8 billion years has already used its

    imaginative prowess to solve many of the problems that society is currently

    grappling with today. Nature has found what works, what is appropriate, and

    most importantly what lasts here on Earth.

    With that being said, life found within nature is the secret to survival and the

    area to which we should be seeking the answers to our problems. However,

    in order to emulate natures genius and reflect it onto our existing world,

    we must view nature in an entirely different manner. As the Biomimicry Guild

    and Institute believes, we need to look at nature as model, measure, and

    mentor.3 The Guild and its collaborators have developed a specific practical

    design tool called the Biomimicry Design Spiral based off of the Golden Ratio

    for using nature as model which helps to further explain this notion.

    Sustainability is also an important contributing factor and reoccurring theme

    throughout the process of biomimicry. Essentially, it is the goal when using

    biomimicry within the realm of design to create hybrids of timeless, sustainable

    pieces. This is where nature as measure is introduced. In learning from the

    principle factors that work within nature, we can then embed them into our

    own sustainable design solutions.

    Lastly, in viewing nature as mentor, it is a summation of how one should view

    nature with a modern outlook. It is vital to note that biomimicry introduces an

    era based not on what we can extract from nature and all that it encompasses

    but on what we can potentially take away and learn from nature. When the

    world of biomimicry and graphic design mesh, it has the power to create a

    beautiful landscape of opportunities.

    The challenge at hand is to now take these time-tested ideals nature has

    produced over the years and echo them to produce effective design solutions.

    By constituting nature as model, measure and as mentor, a new way of

    evaluating and creating effective design solutions will emerge out of the abyss

    of the already creative design process to an entirely new, innovative process

    full of potential. Biomimicry can be used as a tool to create more sustainable

    design solutions due to it being a design methodology itself, occurring in the

    ideation phase of the graphic design process rather than the execution phase.

    For instance, a designer would start with a human design problem, identifying

    the root of challenge and then review how nature would go about solving this

    problem. What would nature do? It is crucial to look at the natural form, process,

    and system already found within nature so one can mimic its process within

    the ideation stage.

    There will be a cross fertilization of ideas along the way, but in the end the

    juggernaut of biomimicry will shed a new light onto the field of graphic design.

    Thus creating an avant-garde mode of thinking which in turn will lead to an

    alternate, innovative and revolutionary graphic design process.

    1 Janine Benyus, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature

    2 For a detailed discussion of Janine Benyus thoughts on Biomimicry, visit TED Talks at

    3 For more information on Biomimicry, visit http://www.biomimicry

    beginning | defining analyzing observing selecting implementing evaluating | progressing

    12 13

  • objective

    Scope of Project

  • The idea for this thesis project came to me after many scrutinizing hours

    of brainstorming and asking myself: What is it that I want to say after the

    culmination of my six years of design study and education? I knew I wanted

    to create something that had the ability to change designers perceptions,

    ultimately challenging the current paradigms. I also knew I wanted to

    demonstrate how design cannot only be good, but do good. I am always

    amazed and inspired by how elegantly ecosystems thrive, foster cooperative

    relationships, and adapt to ever changing conditions and wonder, how can

    graphic design find its niche within the current thriving ecosystem today?

    So, I chose to integrate two very distinct disciplines, Graphic Design and

    Biomimicry, not only because I am passionate about both areas, but I feel

    that in order to design for the greater goo